Do you ever worry about the road your kids will walk? What will it look like? What will they face?
I admit I used to be quite like this (and sometimes still am!) But one day I clicked that this worrying was pointless. Not only could I never foresee what they would face, trying to fix their problems would only turn me into one of those crazy helicopter parents!
But what I decided I could do was try to prepare them for their road.
My moment of realisation came the other day when I was setting the table for breakfast. I realised I had forgotten to buy more brown sugar. Now my 3 year old has half a teaspoon of brown sugar on his porridge every morning. Every morning it’s the same (he actually has half a teaspoon of brown sugar, lots of cinnamon, a little honey and some peanut butter – go figure!).
So I started feeling bad that I’d forgotten something he was certainly going to notice and not be too happy about.
Then it dawned on me – it was obviously just sugar (that, and how dumb some of the things mums feel bad about are!). Many kids don’t know if they’re going to even get breakfast, let alone have all their condiments organised!
What I was trying to do was shield him from disappointment – I was trying to smooth out his road rather than teaching him how to step over the bump.
So this got me thinking about the things I’d like to teach my kids to help them walk their roads successfully. Our default can often be to teach the measurable things like how to count and how to read. Whilst these are important it’s sometimes too easy to forget to consciously teach the less measurable traits
So here’s the list I’ve come up with so far. For my husband and me these fall naturally out of teaching our kids that loving God and loving others is most important. But what I like about these is that I’m hoping we can keep teaching them when they’re teenagers too.
1. Thankfulness – why is it a 10 year old in Sudan sitting in a dusty classroom with 50 others and one textbook between them can be happy and excited for school each morning; whilst a 10 year old in New York paying $1000 a term for school is struggling? One values education and is thankful for any opportunity to learn whilst the other only feels the pressure to perform and live up to expectations. Teaching our kids to default to thankfulness for what they have rather than longing for what they don’t will mean they can always see the bigger picture and be content in whatever senario they find themselves in.
2. Persistence – our children’s generation is the one offered the most distractions ever. I think that the ability to put things aside, to get past challenges and to finish what was started will be a defining trait of those who succeed in the coming years.
3. Delayed gratification – this one trait is the key to success in finances, romantic relationships, physical health and careers. To consciously teach our kids to delay short term pleasure for long term benefit is one of the greatest things we can do for them. Short term pleasure is everywhere – from credit cards to affairs – and the more our kids learn to make good decisions for the long term the more successful their lives will be.
4. Dealing with disappointment – one thing is certain in life – there will be disappointments. Whether it’s people letting you down or things not turning out how you anticipated; learning how to move on and forgive others (or yourself) is just so important. Living unconfined from yesterday’s disappointments is living a life that’s really free.
5. Having fun– because life is to be enjoyed, not endured!
So next time you’re worrying about the road your kids are walking – don’t stress. Much of what they face may be out of our control but we can teach and equip them to make the best decisions they can – and teach them to have fun along the way!